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Johnson's Russia List
15 June 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Itar-Tass: Primakov: New Cabinet Received 'Quite a Good Legacy'
2. NTV: Yeltsin Jokes About Clinton's Personal Praise.
3. New York Times: Anatol Lieven, What Role for Russia?
4. Ustina Markus: Response to Manson, Devane re "Big Dump."
5. USIA: RUSSIANS' ARRIVAL IN KOSOVO: 'MASTERLY COUP,' OR 'AMBIGUOUS ACT'?
6. Fred Weir: McDonalds.
7. Los Angeles Times: Marisa Robertson-Textor, Russia's Few Blacks Find an
Uneasy Home in Their White Motherland.
8. RFE/RL: Paul Goble, The New Bezprizorniki.
9. STRATFOR's Global Intelligence Update: "It's the Russians, Stupid."]
Primakov: New Cabinet Received 'Quite a Good Legacy'
INTERLAKEN, Switserland, June 11 (Itar-Tass) -
Answering questions of reporters in Interlaken, Switzerland, Russian ex-
premier Yevgeny Primakov said on Thursday he believes the new cabinet
received "quite a good legacy" form the previous cabinet and "will be
making progress". Primakov is taking part in the work of the
international forum on world economics and politics underway in Interlaken.
Foreign reporters were interested in Primakov's opinion about the reasons
for the sacking of his cabinet, which is associated in the West with
stabilisation in the Russian economy. Regarding the results of the
cabinet's work, Primakov said: "It was not just that stabilisation was
planned. Growth of 1.5 percent was achieved as compared with precrisis
April 1998. Despite forecasts of hyperinflation, the monthly inflation
rate dropped from 30 percent to 3 percent. There were forecasts that one
dollar will be exchanged for 50 roubles, but the dollar rate rose only
from 19 to 23 roubles in eight months".
Primakov made no secret of the fact that many of the things that were planned
have not been achieved. "But I believe the cabinet that replaced us
received quite a good legacy and will be making progress. In any case,
the legacy we received was much worse than the legacy we passed on".
"As to the reasons why the cabinet was dismissed, this question is not
for me to answer," Primakov said. "I believe there were explanations in
the president's remarks when he said that our cabinet coped quite well
with tactical tasks but that a breakthrough was needed now. He,
apparently, decided that the new cabinet can do this better than the old
Yeltsin Jokes About Clinton's Personal Praise
June 11, 1999
[translation for personal use only]
[Presenter Grigoriy Krichevskiy] [Russian]
President [Boris] Yeltsin was active in dealing with international
affairs today. He held a meeting on Yugoslavia in the Kremlin and named
politicians who had achieved a breakthrough in the Balkan war. Aleksandr
Shashkov has the details.
[Begin recording][Correspondent Aleksandr Shashkov] Yeltsin intended to
make a statement on Yugoslavia before his meeting with Russian Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov and his deputy [as received] Sergey Prikhodko. The
statement had already been prepared. However, he changed his mind and
decided to answer journalists' questions. [Omitted: Yeltsin praising
Ivanov, Prikhodko, himself and Russian presidential envoy Viktor
Chernomyrdin; Yeltsin explaining the reason behind his long pauses - he
gives journalists time to write things down]
[Correspondent] However, when Yeltsin spoke about his night conversation
the US President [Bill Clinton], he made no pauses.
[Yeltsin] Yesterday [10th June] Clinton phoned me, late last night. Just
fancy! [a pause] It turns out that I am a good chap, I am a diplomat, and
lots of other nice things. A veritable Jack of all trades.
[Unidentified correspondent] Maybe this is true?
[Correspondent] Maybe it's true?
[Yeltsin] That is not for me to judge.
[Correspondent] The journalists had enough time to put down the final
[Yeltsin] When the new one [president] comes, he will let you judge.
[Omitted: Ivanov speaking to camera after the meeting about Yeltsin and
Chernomyrdin's role] [end recording] [Video shows an unusually robust and
lively Yeltsin making jokes to journalists; making his colleagues laugh
New York Times
June 14, 1999
[for personal use only]
What Role for Russia?
By ANATOL LIEVEN
Anatol Lieven of the International Institute of Strategic Studies is the
author, most recently, of ``Ukraine and Russia: A Fraternal Rivalry.''
Wnston Churchill liked to tell the story of the man who tried to give the
powder to the bear, and all the elaborate preparations he made to do so --
"but the bear blew first." Decayed and decrepit though it is, the Russian
bear blew faster than NATO when it came to sending peacekeepers into
Kosovo. It taught us a lesson about speed and surprise -- and if it is
true that NATO's advance into Kosovo was delayed to prepare for photo
opportunities, then it was a lesson we badly needed.
The Russian position on the ground is of course extremely weak. Unless
Bulgaria gives permission for Russian overflights, it will be virtually
impossible to reinforce the Russian forces in Kosovo, though they will
doubtless be supplied by the Serbs. It is therefore in NATO's power to
blockade the Russians and force them out.
But this would be a mistake. Even if NATO is forced to agree to a
separate Russian zone, leading to de facto partition of Kosovo, it will
not be a severe blow to NATO policy. It might even help long-term
reconciliation in the Balkans -- which cannot be achieved without the Serbs.
It is still unclear how large the Russian presence will be. It is
entirely possible that the Yeltsin Government will back down in the face
of a mixture of bribes and pressure from the West and abandon its hopes
for a separate zone in the Serb-inhabited areas of northern Kosovo.
If, however, the Russians do establish such a sector, with or without
NATO agreement, then NATO governments will have to decide how to live with
this. Quite frankly, I have always assumed that, whatever Western leaders
are saying, a NATO occupation of the whole of Kosovo would sooner or
later lead to the formal independence of the whole of Kosovo and the
flight of its Serbian minority. With about 90 percent of Kosovo's
population Albanian, and the vast majority of these people in favor of
independence, democracy alone would dictate this.
Apart from anything else, NATO will sooner or later have to start
devolving power to local elected representatives. It is simply implausible
after everything that they have suffered that such Albanian leaders --
whether K.L.A. or other -- will agree to live permanently as part of a
The alternative to NATO's acceptance of independence would therefore be an
indefinite NATO occupation in order to preserve an increasingly empty
pretense of Yugoslav sovereignty and in order to prevent elected Albanian
representatives from exercising real power.
Of course, any NATO withdrawal and acquiescence in Kosovo independence
would be accompanied by assurances of protection and rights for the
Kosovo Serbs -- which in the view of the Serbs would in the end be worth
very little. That is why the Serbs of Pristina have fled by the
thousands ahead of the NATO advance.
A separate Russian presence would, however, greatly complicate this
otherwise rather smooth process. Russia will insist that NATO genuinely
disarm the Kosovo Liberation Army, and the K.L.A. has no desire to
disarm, whatever it says. It will insist that Kosovo remain legally part
of Yugoslavia and will be able to call on support from both the United
Nations Security Council and NATO's own repeated official statements.
From NATO's point of view, there are only two benefits from a Russian
presence. It will strengthen the otherwise thin pretense that this is truly
a U.N.-mandated operation; and especially if deployed along the Serbian
border, it may discourage terrorist and partisan attacks (whether
freelance or Belgrade-sponsored) on NATO troops. Such attacks could
otherwise be a real possibility, especially in circumstances of deep
poverty and political upheaval in Serbia.
On the other hand, Russian soldiers could themselves become targets of
attack by the K.L.A., and might even participate themselves in attacks on
Albanian civilians. It is hardly surprising that NATO governments and
commanders view a separate Russian presence with such profound misgiving.
Sooner or later, if Yugoslav sovereignty over Kosovo proves untenable,
Russia is likely to back a move from Belgrade for partition, leaving the
Serb-inhabited areas and as many of the Serb historic sites as possible
in Serbia and giving the bulk of Kosovo independence.
Western leaders have vehemently rejected this possibility, but partly at
least because it has been seen as giving at least a partial victory to the
evil Slobodan Milosevic. If, however, Mr. Milosevic can be removed from
power -- and pray that he can -- then a compromise along these lines with
a future, more civilized Serbian government might appear a great deal more
acceptable. It would also mark a historic compromise with the Serbian
nation, and indeed with Russia.
Such compromises, of course, will be unnecessary if NATO can simply
control the situation in Kosovo indefinitely and dictate its own terms to
all parties. But the alliance has received one lesson in recent days that
it is a good deal less in control than it had thought, and it will
probably receive many more such lessons in the weeks and months ahead.
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999
From: Ustina Markus (UstinaM@aol.com)
Subject: Response to Manson, Devane
Looks like I hit a couple of sore spots when I sent in my comment on Russia
being a dump.
In response to Tom Manson,
I take the point of your essay and agree that it is not possible, or at
least it is very difficult, to quantify the real socio-economic state of
Russia. It is very true that in many respects life has been improving over
the past years. Apart from the availability of increased consumer goods that
you mention, there is also an increased responsiveness to public opinion by
the government over at least some issues. I have in mind the unpopularity of
the Afghan and Chechen wars. Up until the glasnost period they would have
never received as much independent coverage as they did after Gorbachev
introduce glasnost, and this freedom of expression and information is a very
positive development. The fact that the unpopularity of the Chechen war made
its end a major issue in the presidential elections demonstrates that
Russian politicians do feel they must be responsive to popular demand and
seriously address at least some issues. This is a vast improvement over the
Stalin-era. In fact, many of the problems which receive so much coverage
today may not be new at all, but were simply not publicized twenty years
ago. There is also an unfortunate tendency by some people to sensationalize
social problems in Russia by taking a particularly horrible school, hospital
or orphanage, and portraying it as the norm, when in fact, the particular
item is an example of the worst from that category. Nonetheless, the
judgement of whether Russia is a good place, a bad place or a medium place
is relative. While not everything in Russia is bad, overall, I still find so
much falls into the negative category that I am inclined to lump Russia into
the category of dumps.
In response to Devane,
You seem extremely disturbed by my view that Russia is a dump. So much so
that you felt it necessary to attack me by calling it a goulash of
stereotypes, a senseless diatribe, and asking what type of school would
award me a doctorate. This is obviously a highly personalized issue for you.
To begin, the school that awarded me the PhD was the London School of
Economics, and I don't believe they would not want to be mentioned in
connection with me. My supervisors thought well of my work. You complain
that I air a personal opinion that Russia is not that interesting anymore.
For your information, part of the reason for Johnson's list is to let people
air their personal views and get debates going. I've obviously succeeded in
this. You then go on and complain about my statement that a real change for
Russia would be for it to get its act together and become an orderly
country. Yet you yourself say that it has vast internal differences and
conflicts. In my view, that is the precise reason why it is so difficult for
Russia to get some coherent policies, long-term going. Then you make an
erroneous assumption that one of my problems is that I had unrealistic
expectations for Russia in the past. You are way off base there. In the
early 1980's I had the most negative impression of the Soviet Union
imaginable. I was certain that it was such a horrible place, that I was
actually pleasantly surprised when I first went there in the late 80's. It
was not nearly as bad as I had expected. There were even some nice things
about it. After the USSR broke up, I really dreaded what all of those
republics would look like. Once, a Ukrainian was telling me how he knew it
was going to be rough for his country for the next few years, but in five
years things would be like they are in western Europe. It took a great deal
of self control for me not to roll my eyes in front of him and tell him it
was going to be closer to 50 years of concerted effort to get there. These
are hardly the sentiments of someone who had any expectations whatsoever
from the area. In fact, I would say things have turned out as well as could
be expected. In some areas (e.g. the Russian-Ukrainian disputes over the
Black Sea Fleet or Sevastopol), things have turned out even better than some
had expected. I can't understand why you attribute some kind of naïve
illusions about Russia to me. You shouldn't make such assumptions. Back in
'91, I was convinced all of the republics, with the exception of the
Baltics, would be basket cases. Then I became hopefully optimistic about
some of their prospects. Then, somewhere between the Chechen war and the
re-election of a half-dead Yeltsin as president, I decided Russia was not
going to be one of the winners without some serious effort, which is not
forthcoming. If my opinions bother you so much, well, please feel free to
throw yourself off a bridge.
Foreign Media Reaction
June 14, 1999 RUSSIANS' ARRIVAL IN KOSOVO: 'MASTERLY COUP,' OR 'AMBIGUOUS
Russian troops' surprise move into Kosovo last week dominated editorial
pages in media around the world, with analysts pondering the significance
of the action for the peace process and the long-term implications for
West-East relations. Opinion varied widely on Moscow's preemptive entry
into the Serbian province, with descriptions ranging from a "masterly
coup," to an "erratic" and "ambiguous" act. While some expressed alarm and
worried that Russia's unexpected move could "destabilize" the peacekeeping
effort, most others downplayed the action and argued that it was mainly an
attempt by Russia to soothe its wounded pride in the wake of NATO's bombing
campaign and a "theater" production staged for domestic Russian audiences.
The major concern for most--particularly in the European press--was that
Moscow's demands for its own sector, if not decisively and quickly
squelched, would lead to Kosovo's partition, an eventuality that would
"place the premises underlying the agreement between NATO, Russia and
Serbia in considerable doubt." Opinionmakers everywhere spoke of the
daunting "complexity of the Balkan situation," with many agreeing with one
Italian writer's conclusion that "peace promises to be tougher than war."
Several pundits explored broader themes, ruminating on what they saw as the
emerging global security environment for the 21st century, featuring a
not-unfamiliar scenario where a strong U.S.-led West will confront ongoing
challenges from the East--i.e., Russia and China. Regional views follow:
EUROPE: Most opinionmakers in the major NATO capitals agreed that "the
confusion in Pristina is not encouraging." A Paris writer expressed the
befuddlement of many in noting that "Russia's involvement is not quite
clear. Is its role to help implement the peace plan or to bolster the
Russian army's lost pride? If things are not clarified, today's
ambiguities will become tomorrow's problems." Many agreed that Moscow has
forced the West to admit "that it has been cavalier in its treatment of the
former superpower and that it now has to be given a seat at the commanding
table," in the words of London's liberal Guardian. From across the opinion
spectrum, the consensus appeared to be that the "Russians' exploit" cannot
be considered a "serious threat," and could only be so "if it really were a
prelude to a future partition of Kosovo, since this would mean, de facto
the cancellation of the West's victory." All writers voiced their
opposition to acceding to Russian demands for its own sector. Reaction
from Russia was not available today owing to the celebration of a national
ELSEWHERE: In Asia, Chinese and Indonesian dailies deemed the Russian
action a strategic move, which "undoubtedly give[s] Russia more bargaining
chips" in its negotiations with NATO. Several others in the region
expressed concern about this. The independent Hong Kong Standard fretted
that "what we certainly don't need is another Berlin." In the Arab and
Muslim media, editorials continued to focus on the winners and losers of
the conflict, with most arguing that the Kosovar Muslims cannot yet be
considered among the victors. In Latin America, analysts proffered varying
views on how to secure the peace in Kosovo. Meanwhile, a Senegalese daily
compared the treatment of refugees in Kosovo and those in African
conflicts, concluding that there is general global "indifference" when it
comes to the "countless voiceless people who suffered in terror" in Africa.
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999
From: "Fred Weir" <email@example.com>
By Fred Weir
SOLNTSEVO, Russia (CP) -- McDonalds of Canada has been praised for
bringing its brand of hamburger civilization to the former Soviet Union, but
Russian labour activists complain the company imported roughneck
union-busting tactics as well.
``McDonald's is wrecking its good image in Russia and undermining its
own business by violating Russian law and labour practices,'' says Kiril
Buketov, who represents the Geneva-based international union of food
industry and allied workers in Russia.
Buketov has been working closely with a group of workers who have been
trying since last November to organize a trade union local in the
Canadian-owned McDonald's food processing plant in Solntsevo, an industrial
centre just beyond the Moscow city limits.
``Russian law stipulates that 3 or more people in any enterprise can
form a union, and the company must recognize it and open negotiations with
it,'' Buketov says.
``These people tried to exercise their rights, and found themselves
subjected to intimidation, hounding and stonewalling from McDonald's,'' he
``The company has created an absolutely hostile working environment, and
terrible relations between workers and management. We can't see how that's
in anyone's interest.''
The as-yet unrecognized union local is led by Natalia Gracheva, a
38-year old systems controller who has worked at the McDonald's plant since
it started up nine years ago.
She says that she and several others decided something had to be done
after the Russian financial crisis and rouble devaluation August. Employees
at the plant saw their real wages plunge by up to 70 per cent, while
McDonald's cut some staff and slashed paid working hours for the remainder.
``The managers' salaries are indexed to the U.S. dollar, so they didn't
feel the impact of rouble devaluation,'' says Gracheva, a small, round-faced
woman with piercing blue eyes and curly dark hair.
``But it was very painful and difficult for the workers. Basically,
McDonald's tried to solve its problems at our expense''.
McDonald's opened its first restaurant in the former Soviet Union in
1990 on Moscow's Pushkin Square. It now runs 47 outlets, mostly around
Moscow, and employs almost 7,000 Russians.
The company built the Solntsevo processing facility to ensure steady
supplies of its trademark food products in the turbulent economic conditions
of the former Soviet Union.
Even Gracheva says McDonald's was a good company to work for in the
early years, paying salaries above Russian standards and providing a host of
benefits, such as free meals, work clothes and special events for children.
But she says that when she and 15 or so other workers announced the
formation of a union at the plant last November, McDonald's launched a
ruthless campaign to break them.
Company tactics included harassing known union members by constantly
changing their shifts, meting out discipline for even the smallest
infractions -- such as overstaying a toilet break by a single minute -- and
denying them the bonuses routinely paid to all employees, she says.
Union officials say McDonald's violated Russian law by failing to
recognize the union and by approaching most the plant's workers individually
to threaten that joining the union would mean loss of privileges, paycuts
and possible firing.
Under this pressure, most of the plant's 450 employees were persuaded to
sign anti-union declarations, they say.
``When a union is formed management has no business interfering,'' says
Buketov. ``The company is obliged under national law to recognize the union
and open negotiations with it''.
McDonald's sole public comment on the issue is a statement faxed to
journalists which admits the right of a small group of workers to unionize
under Russian law.
But it says that ``more than 400 Russians are employed at McDonald's
food processing and distribution centre and we are proud to say that the
majority of these employees support the current employment practices.
``As always, we respect the wishes of our employees and continue to
abide by local labour laws''.
Gracheva says McDonald's has eased up on efforts to pressure the dozen
or so remaining union members, but has yet to respond to a collective
bargaining proposal filed by the union last February.
Russian labour legislation stipulates that negotiations between company
and union must begin within a week of the proposal being made.
``Maybe it's naive of me to think that McDonalds should be decent and
civilized about this because they're a foreign company,'' says Gracheva.
``But I believe that if you know your rights and follow all the rules,
things should work out''.
Los Angeles Times
13 June 1999
[for personal use only]
June 13, 1999
Russia's Few Blacks Find an Uneasy Home in Their White Motherland
By MARISA ROBERTSON-TEXTOR
MOSCOW--Welland Rudd isn't a typical American. He's never eaten
Thanksgiving turkey or watched fireworks on the Fourth of July. At 52, he
has yet to set foot on U.S. soil.
Rudd isn't a typical Russian, either. Although he speaks the language
fluently and has lived his whole life in Moscow, he cuts an unusual
figure here. What sets him apart is the cafe-au-lait color of his skin.
The fact that the African American Rudd is a Russian citizen--let
alone one born to two Americans who met in a theater troupe on the
Russian front during World War II--confounds many of his fellow Russians.
In a land famous for its contradictions, he causes sheer bewilderment.
Rudd, whose background is African, Jewish and Serbian American, is an
exception within an exception. Of the roughly 14,000 Afro-Russians in the
country today, says Emilia Mensah, director of a Moscow-based cultural
fund for mixed-race children, the majority are the descendants of male
African students who studied in the Soviet Union in the 1960s-'80s and
white Soviet women.
A Rise in Hate Crimes
Whatever their heritage, Afro-Russians remain a curious phenomenon in
a country boasting hundreds of ethnic groups.
Unlike Americans, who are familiar with the concept of the
"hyphenated" American, Russians continue to draw a distinct line between
ethnicity and nationality. Afro-Russians, who can simultaneously be
Russian and foreign, black and white, fly in the face of conventional
wisdom on what it means to be Russian.
There aren't many; they make up only one-hundredth of 1% of this
country of 146 million. Other Russians frequently mistake them for
foreigners. Some don't even know they exist. Afro-Russians themselves
have often lived in isolation from one another, a fact that is slowly
changing as many of them reach adulthood and begin to seek each other
One factor bringing Afro-Russians together is the increasingly
threatening forms of discrimination they face. Although racist jokes have
always been a fact of life, police harassment and hate crimes appear to
be on the rise. Last year witnessed a rash of attacks on people of color
in Moscow, including the beating of an African American Marine in May.
Only two Afro-Russians are clearly figures of national renown. The
first was a literary genius; the second is a talk-show host.
The Shakespeare of the Russian language, 19th-century writer Alexander
Pushkin, was the great-grandson of an Eritrean nobleman who in his youth
served as Peter the Great's valet.
While Pushkin's poetry speaks to the Russian soul, Yelena Khanga
answers for its body. Khanga, a thirtysomething journalist, hosts one of
the country's most controversial talk shows, "About That," which is
devoted to the sexual practices and proclivities of audience
Like Rudd, Khanga is also an American. Her mother, Leah Golden, is the
daughter of two American Communists, one black and one white, who moved
to the Soviet Union in the 1930s in search of a colorblind workers'
paradise. Although they failed to find it, they settled down, reared a
child and never returned home.
Other interracial families had more difficulty staying intact. Before
the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many were divided by the heavy
hand of bureaucracy. When African students were forced by work
obligations to return home after graduation, their Soviet wives often
faced years of paperwork before they could join their husbands abroad.
Long separations often led to estrangement or divorce. As usually
happens in Russia, the children ended up with their mothers. Ties to
their fathers, with their faraway homeland, language and culture, tended
Take Vitaly Kochnyev, a 23-year-old student who also helps run an art
gallery. His fine-boned features, tan complexion and jaunty stride
wouldn't cause a stir in Paris, London or New York.
But in Moscow, where Kochnyev was reared single-handedly by his
Russian mother after his father returned to Rwanda when he was 3, things
are different. He is used to the curious looks--and sometimes
questions--he elicits, often from total strangers.
"People are usually tactful," he says. "If I were to start a new job,
after a while a co-worker might ask very politely, 'Listen, I don't want
to offend you, but I was just wondering, what's your background?' That
sort of approach doesn't bother me at all."
Marianna Ogot, the 30-year-old daughter of a Kenyan economist and a
Russian nurse, is equally accustomed to the stares. The manager of a
sushi bar in Moscow's theater district, Ogot is regularly queried by
customers who want to know her origins. "People often think I'm Georgian,
even Japanese or Korean," she says.
Ogot doesn't like to dwell on racist encounters. One incident,
however, sticks in her mind.
A few years ago, after trying to straighten her long hair at home and
burning it in the process, she ran to a local salon for help. "I thought,
it'll be so simple, I'll just ask them to cut it all off short," she
says. "The hairdresser yelled at me and said she wouldn't do it. She said
it wasn't worth dulling her scissors on my hair."
Ruslan Kadirov, a 28-year-old opera singer of Ghanaian, Ukrainian and
Uzbek heritage, is less sanguine. For him, there is no avoiding
harassment, often at the hands of the Moscow police force, who are
notorious for their arbitrary document checks of dark-complexioned men.
Failure to produce identification upon request can lead to arrest.
"My passport permanently resides here," Kadirov says, gesturing to his
breast pocket. "I don't leave home without it, ever."
Kadirov estimates that he is stopped by the Moscow city police at
least once a week. In the days leading up to major holidays, he says, he
has been detained as often as three times a day.
Foundation Funding Remains a Dream
Such events are a source of great concern for Afro-Russians. "We
never, ever felt unsafe before," says Inessa Provencal, 58, the daughter
of an African American actor who immigrated to the Soviet Union in the
early 1930s. "There were always problems, racist comments, even job
discrimination, but never actual physical danger."
"In Soviet times, people were told that black people had been
discriminated against by the whole world. So Russians decided they needed
to be loved, respected and defended. They don't feel that way today,"
says Janna Belioustova, the 62-year-old daughter of a Congolese actor and
a Polish singer.
Soviet ideology condemned racism in broad terms but did little to
challenge the assumptions underlying racist stereotypes. In recent years,
free speech and economic hardship have revived ethnic tensions. "During
an economic crisis, it's easy to point fingers, and we stand out. We're
not blamed, but we're targeted," says Kadirov.
Alarmed by such changes, Mensah, a teacher turned activist, decided in
1997 to create a cultural foundation for Afro-Russian children. Tracking
down the children scattered across Moscow was challenge enough.
Organizing activities for them is the next step. Resources are scarce,
and funding remains a dream. "When it comes to sponsors, no one seems
interested in black children," she says.
Mensah is fighting to register her organization with the Justice
Ministry as the Cultural Foundation for Mixed-Race Children. "At first we
wanted to use the term Afro-Russian," she says, "but the Justice Ministry
didn't like it. They said, 'What's that? What does it mean?' "
Kochnyev knows what it means. To him, the answer couldn't be simpler.
"I'm an Afro-Russian," he says softly. "Not your typical Russian, maybe,
but Russian all the same. This is my home."
Russia: Analysis from Washington -- The New Bezprizorniki
By Paul Goble
Washington, D.C. 14 June 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The social and economic disorder
in the Russian Federation has pushed more than 1.5 million school-age
children into the streets, a larger number of "unsupervised" youths than
the Soviet state faced in the 1920s and a development which casts a shadow
over that country's future.
According to the journal of the Russian Ministry of Education,
unemployment, alcoholism, and assorted social pathologies in the home are
not only driving ever more young people into the streets where they
frequently drift into crime but also having a serious impact on their
Ministry analysts suggest that the rising tide of criminal behaviour by
such young people on the streets reflects the collapse of Soviet-era
arrangements for structuring leisure time activity and the rise of
alternative and largely Western role models in the media.
One of these analysts, Vladimir Andreyev, bemoans the fact that Russian
children today face a situation in which the old system of organized
activities and camps "is basically in ruins." As a result, he says, an ever
increasing number of children take their behavioural cues from media which
glorify violence and get-rich-quick schemes and from youths not much older
than themselves who are already pursuing what this analyst calls a false
and perverted goal.
In this, Andreyev writes, the children have been following their parents
and Russian society as a whole. In 1991, he notes, Russians "once again
decided to restructure everything at one fell swoop,to start over again as
we did back in 1917 -- this time, however, exclusively on a solid,
'democratic' foundation. The new starting point was found as well -- just
do everything completely opposite" to what had been done.
That radical change of sign posts, Andreyevv suggests, has subverted the
moral order without providing a new one. And that pattern has been
exacerbated by the fact that "every autumn and every spring a new Moses
swears that stabilization" and prosperity "are just around the corner,"
thus undercutting any willingness by children or their parents to defer
Meanwhile, Vladimir Bazarnyi, a ministry doctor who keeps track of child
health issues suggests in the same journal that more than 90 percent of
those who do remain in secondary schools now have developmental problems,
with 85 our of every 100 school-age girls suffering from physical
abnormalities in pelvic development.
This latter figure, he suggests, is "simply horrifying" because it points
to a future in which "the overwhelming majority of future mothers will not
be able to give birth to healthy offspring who are normal 'in all
parameters.'" And such statistics, the ministry figures imply, are even
worse for those 1.5 million children who have left school early.
This is not the first time Moscow has faced the problem of unsupervised
youth or "bezprizorniki" as they are called in Russian. Following the
Russian Civil War, Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin ordered his secret police
chief Feliks Dzerzinskiy to commit half of the Cheka's employees to
combatting the plague of homeless youth. And later, other Soviet leaders
used the police to limit the number of such people on various occasions.
The Russian Federation Ministry of Education refers to these earlier
approaches, but its officials call for more money to be devoted to the
health and well-being of children. At present, they note that "there is a
catastrophic lack of funds everywhere" children are involved. But they
complain that even now there is "more than enough money" for other things:
There is More than enough" for "the maintenance of two parallel
governments," for "squadrons of flights to places like Davos and
Strasbourg," for "multiple channels to transfer money abroad," and even for
"the purchase of luxurious villas on the Cote d'Azur" where "obviously no
kindergartens are going to be built for our little ones."
"Sackfuls of brand-new banknotes," these officials continue, "are being
spent to build marble and crystal bank interiors, nightclub casinos, and
personal mansions and estates in the suburbs, and to pay for the foreign
schooling of the offspring of the hard-currency families that especially
distinguished themselves during the era of the intial accumulation of
Such a cry from the heart of educators is perhaps not surprising in the
tough budgetary struggles in the Russian capital. But the problems they
point to affect not only Russia's children but Russia's future. And
analogous problems are to be found in many other post-Soviet states as well.
Global Intelligence Update
Weekly Analysis June 14, 1999
"It's the Russians, Stupid"
NATO continued its policy of trying to turn a compromise into a
victory. In order to do that, it has been necessary to treat
Russia as if its role was peripheral. It was a policy bound to
anger Russia. It was not a bad policy, if NATO were ready and able
to slay the bear. But goading a wounded bear when you are not in a
position to kill him is a dangerous game. On Saturday morning, the
bear struck back. NATO still hasn't gotten him back in his cage.
President Bill Clinton had a sign taped to his desk at the
beginning of his first term in office that read, "It's the Economy,
Stupid." He should have taped one on his desk at the beginning of
the Kosovo affair that said, "It's the Russians, Stupid." From the
beginning to the end of this crisis, it has been the Russians, not
the Serbs, who were the real issue facing NATO.
The Kosovo crisis began in December 1998 in Iraq. When the United
States decided to bomb Iraq for four days in December, in spite of
Russian opposition and without consulting them, the Russians became
furious. In their view, the United States completely ignored them
and had now reduced them to a third-world power - discounting
completely Russia's ability to respond. The senior military was
particularly disgruntled. It was this Russian mood, carefully read
by Slobodan Milosevic, which led him to conclude that it was the
appropriate time to challenge the West in Kosovo. It was clear to
Milosevic that the Russians would not permit themselves to be
humiliated a second time. He was right. When the war broke out,
the Russians were not only furious again, but provided open
political support to Serbia.
There was, in late April and early May, an urgent feeling inside of
NATO that some sort of compromise was needed. The feeling was an
outgrowth of the fact that the air war alone would not achieve the
desired political goals, and that a ground war was not an option.
At about the same time, it became clear that only the Russians had
enough influence in Belgrade to bring them to a satisfactory
compromise. The Russians, however, were extremely reluctant to
begin mediation. The Russians made it clear that they would only
engage in a mediation effort if there were a prior negotiation
between NATO and Russia in which the basic outlines of a settlement
were established. The resulting agreement was the G-8 accords.
The two most important elements of the G-8 agreement were
unwritten, but they were at the heart of the agreement. The first
was that Russia was to be treated as a great power by NATO, and not
as its messenger boy. The second was that any settlement that was
reached had to be viewed as a compromise and not as a NATO victory.
This was not only for Milosevic's sake, but it was also for
Yeltsin's. Following his humiliation in Iraq, Yeltsin could not
afford to be seen as simply giving in to NATO. If that were to
happen, powerful anti-Western, anti-reform and anti-Yeltsin forces
would be triggered. Yeltsin tried very hard to convey to NATO that
far more than Kosovo was at stake. NATO didn't seem to listen.
Thus, the entire point of the G-8 agreements was that there would
be a compromise in which NATO achieved what it wanted while
Yugoslavia retained what it wanted. A foreign presence would enter
Kosovo, including NATO troops. Russian troops would also be
present. These Russian troops would be used to guarantee the
behavior of NATO troops in relation to Serbs, in regard to
disarming the KLA, and in guaranteeing Serbia's long-term rights in
Kosovo. The presence of Russian troops in Kosovo either under a
joint UN command or as an independent force was the essential
element of the G-8. Many long hours were spent in Bonn and
elsewhere negotiating this agreement.
Over the course of a month, the Russians pressured Milosevic to
accept these agreements. Finally, in a meeting attended by the
EU's Martti Ahtisaari and Moscow's Viktor Chernomyrdin, Milosevic
accepted the compromise. Milosevic did not accept the agreements
because of the bombing campaign. It hurt, but never crippled him.
Milosevic accepted the agreements because the Russians wanted them
and because they guaranteed that they would be present as
independent observers to make certain that NATO did not overstep
its bounds. This is the key: it was the Russians, not the bombing
campaign that delivered the Serbs.
NATO violated that understanding from the instant the announcement
came from Belgrade. NATO deliberately and very publicly attacked
the foundations of the accords by trumpeting them as a unilateral
victory for NATO's air campaign and the de-facto surrender of
Serbia. Serbia, which had thought it had agreed to a compromise
under Russian guarantees, found that NATO and the Western media
were treating this announcement as a surrender. Serb generals were
absolutely shocked when, in meeting with their NATO counterparts,
they were given non-negotiable demands by NATO. They not only
refused to sign, but they apparently contacted their Russian
military counterparts directly, reporting NATO's position. A
Russian general arrived at the negotiations and apparently presided
over their collapse.
Throughout last week, NATO was in the bizarre position of claiming
victory over the Serbs while trying to convince them to let NATO
move into Kosovo. The irony of the situation of course escaped
NATO. Serbia had agreed to the G-8 agreements and it was sticking
by them. NATO's demand that Serbia accept non-negotiable terms was
simply rejected, precisely because Serbia had not been defeated.
The key issue was the Russian role. Everything else was trivial.
Serbia had been promised an independent Russian presence. The G-8
agreements had said that any unified command would be answerable to
the Security Council. That wasn't happening. The Serbs weren't
signing. NATO's attempt to dictate terms by right of victory fell
flat on its face. For a week, NATO troops milled around, waiting
for Serb permission to move in.
The Russians proposed a second compromise. If everyone would not
be under UN command, they would accept responsibility for their own
zone. NATO rejected this stating Russia could come into Kosovo
under NATO command or not at all. This not only violated the
principles that had governed the G-8 negotiations, by removing the
protection of Serb interests against NATO, but it also put the
Russians into an impossible position in Belgrade and in Moscow.
The negotiators appeared to be either fools or dupes of the West.
Chernomyrdin and Ivanov worked hard to save the agreements, and
perhaps even their own careers. NATO, for reasons that escape us,
gave no ground. They hung the negotiators out to dry by giving
them no room for maneuver. Under NATO terms, Kosovo would become
exactly what Serbia had rejected at Rambouillet: a NATO
protectorate. And now it was Russia, Serbia's ally, that delivered
them to NATO.
By the end of the week, something snapped in Moscow. It is not
clear whether it was Yeltsin who himself ordered that Russian
troops move into Pristina or whether the Russian General Staff
itself gave the order. What is clear is that Yeltsin promoted the
Russian general who, along with his troops, rolled into Pristina.
It is also clear that although Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov had
claimed that the whole affair was an accident and promised that the
troops would be withdrawn immediately, no troops have been removed.
Talbott then flew back to Moscow. Clinton got to speak with
Yeltsin after a 24-hour delay, but the conversation went nowhere.
Meanwhile, Albright is declaring that the Russians must come under
NATO command and that's final.
The situation has become more complex. NATO has prevailed on
Hungary and Ukraine to forbid Russian aircraft from crossing their
airspace with troops bound for Kosovo. Now Hungary is part of
NATO. Ukraine is not. NATO is now driving home the fact that
Russia is surrounded, isolated and helpless. It is also putting
Ukraine into the position of directly thwarting fundamental Russian
strategic needs. Since NATO is in no position to defend Ukraine
and since there is substantial, if not overwhelming, pro-Russian
sentiment in Ukraine, NATO is driving an important point home to
the Russians: the current geopolitical reality is unacceptable from
the Russian point of view. By Sunday, Russian pressure had caused
Ukraine to change its policy. But the lesson was not lost on
Here is the problem as Stratfor sees it. NATO and the United
States have been dealing with men like Viktor Chernomyrdin. These
men have had their primary focus, for the past decade, on trying to
create a capitalist Russia. They have not only failed, but their
failure is now manifest throughout Russia. Their credibility there
is nil. In negotiating with the West, they operate from two
imperatives. First, they are seeking whatever economic concessions
they can secure in the hope of sparking an economic miracle.
Second, like Gorbachev before them, they have more credibility with
the people with whom they are negotiating than the people they are
negotiating for. That tends to make them malleable.
NATO has been confusing the malleability of a declining cadre of
Russian leaders with the genuine condition inside of Russia.
Clearly, Albright, Berger, Talbott, and Clinton decided that they
could roll Ivanov and Chernomyrdrin into whatever agreement they
wanted. In that they were right. Where they were terribly wrong
was about the men they were not negotiating with, but whose power
and credibility was growing daily. These faceless hard-liners in
the military finally snapped at the humiliation NATO inflicted on
their public leaders. Yeltsin, ever shrewd, ever a survivor,
tacked with the wind.
Russia, for the first time since the Cold War, has accepted a
low-level military confrontation with NATO. NATO's attempts to
minimize it notwithstanding, this is a defining moment in post-Cold
War history. NATO attempted to dictate terms to Russia and Russia
made a military response. NATO then used its diplomatic leverage
to isolate Kosovo from follow-on forces. It has forced Russia to
face the fact that in the event of a crisis, Ukraine will be
neither neutral nor pro-Russian. It will be pro-NATO. That means
that, paperwork aside, NATO has already expanded into Ukraine. To
the Russians who triggered this crisis in Pristina, that is an
unacceptable circumstance. They will take steps to rectify that
problem. NATO does not have the military or diplomatic ability to
protect Ukraine. Russia, however, has an interest in what happens
within what is clearly its sphere of influence. We do not know
what is happening politically in Moscow, but the straws in the wind
point to a much more assertive Russian foreign policy.
There is an interesting fantasy current in the West, which is that
Russia's economic problems prevent military actions. That is as
silly an observation as believing that the U.S. will beat Vietnam
because it is richer, or that Athenians will beat the poorer
Spartans. Wealth does not directly correlate with military power,
particularly when dealing with Russia, as both Napoleon and Hitler
discovered. Moreover, all economic figures on Russia are
meaningless. So much of the Russian economy is "off the books"
that no one knows how it is doing. The trick is to get the
informal economy back on the books. That, we should all remember,
is something that the Russians are masters at. It should also be
remembered that the fact that Russia's military is in a state of
disrepair simply means that there is repair work to be done. Not
only is that true, but the process of repairing the Russian economy
is itself an economic tonic, solving short and long term problems.
Military adventures are a psychological, economic and political
boon for ailing economies.
Machiavelli teaches the importance of never wounding your
adversaries. It is much better to kill them. Wounding them and
then ridiculing and tormenting them is the worst possible strategy.
Russia is certainly wounded. It is far from dead. NATO's strategy
in Kosovo has been to goad a wounded bear. That is not smart
unless you are preparing to slay him. Since no one in NATO wants
to go bear hunting, treating Russia with the breathtaking contempt
that NATO has shown it in the past few weeks is not wise. It seems
to us that Clinton and Blair are so intent on the very minor matter
of Kosovo that they have actually been oblivious to the effect
their behavior is having in Moscow.
They just can't get it into their heads that it's not about Kosovo.
It is not about humanitarianism or making ourselves the kind of
people we want to be. It's about the Russians, stupid! And about
China and about the global balance of power.